Friday, 30 January 2015

Update - My Sewing Week

It's been quite an eclectic week as far as sewing goes. I've been busy making removable velcro curtaining for a stage at a music venue, whipped up a curtain for my sewing studio / piano room and had a last minute 'Kristoff' costume request for a child's 'Frozen' party tomorrow. Phew.

I took a few quick snaps in the dappled early morning sun before dropping the costume off this morning. It's far from a proper tutorial or 'How To' but I'm told there is very little on offer for boys so in case of any further 'Frozen' emergencies I thought I'd share a really quick breakdown of how I put it together.

I didn't have time to properly draft fitted pattern pieces so using some standard measurements I free-handed the tunic shape from fleece (which is fairly forgiving in terms of fit) adding a little decorative neck facing with a pinked edge (applied to the wrong side and turned outwards to topstitch) and grey fur trim at the armholes and hem.

I made the trim from sheet fur, folding strips wrong sides together and running it through my overlocker to make it easier to apply.

The little sash was super straightforward. The bonus of working in fleece is there's no fraying to contend with so it's simply a strip with fringing snipped into the short ends.

The little hat turned out quite cute! I cut a wide strip just a couple of inches longer than the head circumference, cut it into two and added a little more of the grey trim when stitching it into a tube.

I cut another narrower strip which was stitched at the short end into a second tube. I folded this wrong sides together and applied it to the raw edge of the (inside out) larger first tube. The band simply turns outward covering all of the raw edges and to finish I wedged it onto my head (it was pretty snug!) gathering it up and tying off the excess. Finally a last little trim!

My sewing room is coming along nicely. I've hung some of my certificates and my hysterical Christmas pressie from Kirsten (thanks!) -a Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (hunky man) Calendar.

I recently updated my storage with Ikea 'Trofast' toy storage units with sliding plastic drawers. They're easily removable for rummaging and come in different depths. It's the perfect accessible craft storage only they are quite ugly. I decided to attach a lightweight curtain with some curtain wire just to clean things up a bit (though clearing the junk from the top would probably help it along...).

The cotton is a peppermint green with white spots from Make & Do and although it works quite nicely, now it's done I'm not 100% sold on it. Perhaps it's just where the mirror is resting for now but it sort of reminds me of a 1950's dressing table or something. It's also just a wee bit lighter in colour than I'd hoped. That said it's great usable fabric so even if I update it it's sure to get used!

So that's my week so far. I have a little jersey sewing planned for this weekend and really must crack on with a belated Christmas pressie (more on that when it's finished)! I hope that your week has been a good one!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Hexie Piecing #1 - Invisible Stitch Method

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Let me just say I'm really no expert in paper piecing having taken it up fairly recently, but I've settled into a method which seems to yield good consistent results without the visible stitches that I've seen in lots of other examples so I thought I'd take a few snaps and share it with you lovely folks.

Of course that's not to say there's anything wrong with the stitches showing! It's just a matter of preference and the finish you're after. In fact it can be quite lovely as a little nod to the hours spent piecing them together by hand, but this following method is what I've personally settled on.

So firstly basting / tacking depending on your preferred terminology. Sort of reinventing the wheel here but hey -for the sake of being thorough I'll go with it (You can use a glue pen for this stage but I've yet to try that myself).

So you start by centering the template and folding over one edge. Fold the next edge, neatly wrapping the corner, then take a little stitch where they meet leaving a short tail. Take another stitch in the same spot to secure the thread (or knot for extra security).

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Move to the next corner and repeat, neatly folding the corner and taking two stitches to secure until you've worked around the whole shape. Take a double stitch (or tie off) and snip.

Keeping your stitches close to the outer edge will make removing the templates a little easier leaving the basting stitches intact. This helps to keep all of the tiny seam allowances nicely in place.

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

When it comes to assembling I've seen a ladder stitch recommended for invisible stitches. I often use it for hand sewing binding or turning holes so thought I'd give it a try but I have to say I wasn't so enamored with the finish. A 'Whip Stitch' is stronger and seems to be general preference.

Now here's the trick! 

Most articles I've read suggest stitching through only the tiniest margin of fabric -a few threads only. You want to avoid hitting the paper but I've found that biting into the fabric a little more (consistency is important here!) yields better invisible seams.

So start with your pieces right sides facing as shown below and take a stitch through both right at the corner. You can simply take another stitch in the same place to secure, or again tie it off for extra strength. Then take a little stitch back to front, back to front every few millimeters being sure to keep the stitches nice and taut.

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Like I said, stitch consistency is important with both depth and spacing. It takes me a couple to settle into a rhythm. When you reach the other corner you can finish up using your preferred method of tying or stitching and snip.

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Hexie Paper Piecing - My method for invisible stitches

Ah, Pretty! And not a stitch in sight. I've another Hexie post in the making with a little method for matching up corner points but as it's the weekend I feel I've done enough photo editing for one day!

By the way my lovely birthday pressie Liberty hexies (which I keep banging on about) are from Very Berry Fabrics. Anyone else tackling paper piecing? Or have your own tried and tested methods? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Handmade Lampshade in Anna Maria Horner 'Echinacea'

My machine 'Bernie' is still in for repairs but I so wanted to crack on with this project that I popped in to work on my day off.

Having just finished it around dusk the pictures aren't the best. Yes I could've waited until tomorrow, but hey! I was raring to go, as oh my goodness this fabric (Echinacea by Anna Maria Horner) is glorious! So I hopped on a bus and sat with the lovely Jemma and stitched together my panel.

We are lucky enough to have a little Victorian terraced house and the high ceilings meant I could go crazy with the largest 40cm 'Needcraft' kit from Make & Do which requires around a 130cm length panel. That's longer than the standard 112cm width cotton meaning piecing together two lengths was necessary (I must say I did rather a good job on the pattern matching for this one!). I added the minty texture print from my stash just to brighten things up a bit.

I pinked the seam and pressed it open to reduce bulk. This is something I'd reconsider next time as the pinked edge is just visible through the paler fabric when the light is on -perhaps I'd trim the seam allowance and press both to the darker side?

Next step is smoothing on the sticky plastic. Pulling the paper backing off as you go is a little fiddly but happily I managed to keep it pretty darn straight on the first attempt -Phew!

The excess fabric then gets trimmed to the edge of the plastic, then here's the clever part! The perfect seam allowance is included in the plastic which you then fold at the perforation, bend to snap free (see below) and peel off leaving the perfect fabric margin.

I roped in my other half to help with the next step as it is definitely good to have a second pair of hands if you're making a large lampshade. The hoops are first covered in super sticky double sided tape then rolled right up along the edge of the plastic.

(FYI if you switch the hoops around you can make your shade suitable for a lamp instead of a pendant -simply attach the hoop with the fixing to the underside instead of the top!)

Lastly the fabric edges are tucked in with a little tool provided for a nice neat finish.

Now as with most of my projects it's not perfect and there are aspects I would tweak next time around (I've had conversations with a few different people recently about the compulsion to point out the flaws in ones own work -maybe it's a British thing? ...or a lady thing?) but I'm so pleased with it!

My first solo lampshade :)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Watson Sewalong by Cloth Habit

With Bernie at Direct Sewing Machines for a bit of TLC I've decided to stay in my pyjamas this morning and do a little project pondering!

You may notice a new button in the sidebar for the 'Watson' sewalong. It's a brilliant new bra & bikini pattern by Amy at Cloth Habit that's been doing the rounds in blogland for the last month or so.

Watson Sew Along by Cloth Habit

I'm trying to make good on my 2015 bra making goal nice and early whilst the motivation is still there so I've grabbed myself a copy of the pattern and am preparing and gathering goodies to take part in the sewalong. I have some lycra sitting in my stash so I'll try it out with that then invest in something lovely for round two.

I figure it's a great basic pattern to start with as there are no underwires and casings to contend with and the stretch element is probably a bit more forgiving in the fitting department -plus there will be loads of tips and tricks provided to take a bit of the 'trial and error' out of it.

Tasia over at Sewaholic has made some beautiful versions already, but I can't wait to see what everyone else makes (there's a dedicated Facebook group HERE). It's always great to get some inspiration from other sewists around the world.

So what do you say? Fancy joining in...?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Local Independents - Nanny Freddie's Attic

I thought it was high time I resurrected the 'Local Independents' posts as it's been a very long time since the last. This one is a little different! It's less local than some as it's situated in Avonmouth but I'm going to make the executive decision that for my purposes 'local' covers the south west.

Nanny Freddie's Attic is a little treasure trove of authentic vintage and antique pieces with a few choice bits of new shabby chic thrown in for good measure. Steph and I took a little drive over on Tuesday and I actually remembered to pop my camera in my bag before leaving the house!

Naturally I was drawn towards this unit bursting with beautiful free motioned quilts. They have a nice range of cushions too which are currently on sale for a bargain £5 each.

My favourite piece by a mile was this Art Deco glass cabinet. The shape is gorgeous! Unfortunately A) too big to fit in the car and B) I've absolutely nowhere for it to go.

Antique and reupholstered chairs
Another beaut was the huge gramophone cabinet in the window (which I neglected to photograph). Steph snapped up a couple of cute glass jars and one of the aforementioned bargain cushions. Another great little spot to add to our growing list!

We'll definitely be back! Check out the facebook page for more info.

Monday, 5 January 2015

January Sale - Folksy Discount Code

Only a few last bits left in my Folksy shop now from the little run of patchwork goodies I made for the Make and Do Christmas showcase.

As it's January I figured it was only right to have a little sale, so for the next fortnight (or till they run out!) on top of free second class postage there's 15% off with the discount code 'JANSALE15'.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Resolutions and that...

Hello 2015! I feel like the obligatory 'round-up / resolution post' is in order to mark the beginning of the new year.

New Year's Eve is not something that I really tend to celebrate (not least of all due to being ill for a number of them) but I have to say I do quite enjoy the feeling of some tiny form of fresh start -where the world once again feels like your oyster albeit temporarily.

So what happened in 2014? The main marker for me was moving into our new house which is still very much a work in progress but we love it. Lots of home sewing plans in the pipeline.

First home project - Sofa cover and cushions update.
Make and Do's first birthday celebrations.
I started working with the ladies in the shop which has been great fun and has introduced me to lots of lovely like minded folk, and I've started piano teaching (keyboards technically) which isn't something that gets discussed much in these parts amongst all things craft related.

My plans for 2015 involve finishing my piano diploma (a huge undertaking which I'll be immensely proud to complete) and starting my teaching from home.

I also intend to tackle bra making. It's something that I've pondered for a while but the perseverance with fitting and adjusting has put me off. No longer!! Tasia over at 'Sewaholic' is to thank for this -lots of inspiration over there.

I suppose that plans aren't strictly resolutions so to add a few to the mix mine will be:

Take more time to properly fit garments (yes -that means toile making!!) something I often skip then later regret. 

Get a handle on my outrageous sweet tooth and get back into good cooking habits.

So there we go. I have to say I'm feeling more hopeful about the former... How about you? Any resolutions for the brand new year ahead? I hope it's a happy and prosperous one for us all.